Category Archives: Housing

1% own 50% of England


A tiny fraction of people own half of England a book has revealed – but we suspected that already, didn’t we?

In good news for fans of the aristocracy and big corporations, author Guy Shrubsole’s book ‘Who Owns England?’ shows that a mere 25,000 people currently hold 50% of the country’s land area.

According to this Guardian story, some of the bigger players include the Queen, the Duke of Buccleuch and the Brexit-loving vacuum cleaner salesman James Dyson, who recently moved his air sucking operation to Singapore.

Shrubsole is scathing: ‘Most people remain unaware of quite how much land is owned by so few. A few thousand dukes, baronets and country squires own far more land than all of middle England put together.

‘Land ownership in England is astonishingly unequal, heavily concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite.’

The author drew on public maps and FOI requests when creating his book which shows: 30% of England’s land is in the hands of ‘aristocracy and gentry’; 18% corporations; 17% oligarchs and city bankers – all groups most of us respect and look up to no doubt.

Meanwhile, 5% belongs to ‘homeowners’ and the public sector has a 8.5% share.

MP Jon Trickett isn’t very pleased, as you’d hope given that he’s in the Labour party. He said: ‘The dramatic concentration of land ownership is an inescapable reminder that ours is a country for the few and not the many.

‘It’s simply not right that aristocrats, whose families have owned the same areas of land for centuries, and large corporations exercise more influence over local neighbourhoods – in both urban and rural areas – than the people who live there.

‘Land is a source of wealth, it impacts on house prices, it is a source of food and it can provide enjoyment for millions of people.’

Anyway, happy Easter.

Rogue landlord database has 4 (anonymous) entries 12 months on


A year ago, the government brought in laws to punish terrible landlords – so, 12 months later, how many have been hit with one of the new banning orders?

None! That’s right – according to this Guardian article from which I’m lifting this entire story, not a single slum landlord has been banned from renting homes in England: which may mean all the rubbish landlords have bucked their ideas up, but I doubt it.

Under the rules, dodgy landlords must have their details put into the government’s rogue landlord database.

Anyhow, local authorities are also able to make discretionary entries onto the database – and according to the results of the Guardian’s FOI request, a mere four suspect landlords have been entered into the system since it went online; and their names can’t even be accessed, so it’s hard to imagine what the point of all this is.

Despite the suspicious lack of entries on the would-be flash but currently fruitless database, the government reckons there are a massive 10,500 rogue landlords plying their trade across England.

Heather Wheeler, minister for housing and homelessness, is clearly a fan of the database and very keen to defend it. ‘The rogue landlord database is targeted at the most prolific and serious offenders. It is a lengthy process to build cases and secure convictions and it is therefore not surprising that there are only a limited number at this stage,’ she said.

She continued: ‘We expect the number of entries to the database to increase during the year as only offences committed from April last year can be included and it can take time to secure convictions.’

But none of that’s flying with Clive Betts, chair of the parliament’s housing, communities and local government select committee,  who said: ‘Given what we know about the bad behaviour of a small number of landlords, it is very, very disappointing there aren’t more being prosecuted and banned.’

So, who’s right: Wheeler or Betts? Let us know in the comments section.


Partnership brings research evidence to practitioners


HQN, the UK Collaborative Centre for Housing Evidence (CaCHE) and the Housing Studies Association (HSA) are delighted to announce their new partnership to produce HQN’s research newsletter, Evidence.

Sponsorship from CaCHE and the HSA, together with collaboration on the content, will enable the newsletter to thrive in the coming years, bringing news of housing research directly to professionals who can use it.

Now published as a supplement in HQN’s magazine, The Governor, Evidence has run continuously for six years under editor Janis Bright, and is freely available to download from the HQN website  The latest edition will be published later this month.

HQN CEO Alistair McIntosh said: ‘Making decisions based on evidence is vital. Having the latest housing research knowledge available is key to improving practice and performance across the sector. We are delighted to have CaCHE and the HSA working with us on this project.’

CaCHE Director Ken Gibb added: ‘We see this new partnership as another step connecting academia, policy and practice, and as a great way to continue sharing the latest evidence and data to the sector.’

HSA Chair Beth Watts commented: ‘The HSA aims to promote the study and understand of housing and build links between housing researchers and professionals. We’re delighted to be partners with HQN on Evidence, which provides a key point of dialogue between robust research and practice within the housing sector.’

To contribute to Evidence, please contact editor Janis Bright:

Social landlords are building homes and boosting finances – yet are still being slammed. Why?

By Alistair McIntosh, HQN CEO

Associations are working harder than ever to bulk up financial strength and build more homes. So why are you getting criticised so much?

In many ways, you are trapped by a couple of paradoxes. To get stronger you may need to merge, and that means you deal with a wider set of people in many different places.

Can you keep them all happy? It’s a tall order. You try to build homes quickly and that means working with developers. Time and again their standards of building fall well short of what any reasonable person would expect.

All too often it’s the association that gets hammered as the developer runs for cover. Then you try to sell homes to subsidise rented ones. And those leaseholders go over every bill you send with a fine toothcomb, as is their right.

So, you wind up covering bigger areas than ever and managing the expectations of a wider demographic than you imagined you would. In many ways, that’s all good news.

But in the days of phone cameras and social media, everyone is a journalist. If you screw up, there is no hiding place. And the board and chief executive are usually the last to know. On top of this we have febrile politics. So Momentum and others are boosting tenant campaigns. And there’s no point whinging about this as that’s their job.

So, what do we do about it? That’s what our reputation management event in London this month will explore.

There is no doubt that we are losing the reputation battle. We’ve seen savage criticism from MPs, massive social media campaigns, tabloid exposes and brutal documentaries on UK and even Russian TV lambasting us. It’s painful to watch, regardless of the rights and wrongs of it.

The housing minister, Kit Malthouse, tells us he’s tired of being the post bag for complaints about his local associations. But he also praises L&Q for their honesty and determination to sort things out. That’s why we’ve invited L&Q to share their learning – good and bad – at this event.

Karen Buck will also tell you about her vigorous work over many years to make sure social and private landlords do the right thing for her constituents. All too often, it’s been an uphill struggle. What are her dos and don’ts?

This won’t be a day for the fainthearted. You’ll hear a lot of home truths. As you know, there are plenty of well-funded private landlords waiting in the wings to replace you. It’s essential that we recover our reputation to prove that councils, associations and ALMOs are the best option. We’ve a lot of ground to make up and our speakers will help you to do that.

Hosted by communications expert Helen Reynolds, our ‘Reputation rollercoaster – how to stay on track’ will cover:

  • How to build a trusted brand
  • Practice what you preach – clarity of mission and sticking to your values
  • Putting residents at the heart of decision making
  • The importance of engaged employees and a happy workforce
  • Stakeholder engagement strategies – working with politicians and the media
  • Making social media a friend not an enemy
  • Understanding where reputational risk comes from and how to deal with it

To learn more and to book, click here.




Government finds £46m to get rough sleepers into accommodation


The government has come up with a rather sizable £46 million to help get people off the streets and into accommodation.

Seasoned announcer and communities secretary James Brokenshire has today revealed that local authorities across the land will receive a share of the fund, which will apparently be used to pay for ‘rough sleeping coordinator roles, add new or additional outreach services and extend existing or provide new temporary accommodation’.

The money forms part of the government’s £100m Rough Sleeping Strategy and is additionally earmarked to be used on things like night shelters and hostel spaces, while ‘there is also an opportunity to provide housing-led solutions such as Housing First services’.

The ever-hopeful government estimates that the money will pay for:

  • 110 rough sleeping coordinators to improve local handing of the issue
  • 300 outreach workers
  • 350 other support and specialist roles
  • over 1,400 new emergency bed spaces, including winter night shelter provision
  • over 700 new long-term beds, including in the private rented sector and supported housing
  • more than 500 new temporary spaces

It’s forecast that some projects will provide specialist support such as family reconnections, immigration advice or access to mental and physical health services, while others will focus on delivering services for specific groups of people, such as vulnerable women.

MP Brokenshire MP had nothing additional to say. Only joking. He said: ‘The £100 million-backed Rough Sleeping Strategy sets out this government’s blueprint for ending rough sleeping for good.

‘We are taking the necessary steps to make that happen, already providing 2,600 additional beds and 750 more support staff for the most vulnerable people in our society.

‘But we must keep up the momentum and that’s why we are giving this funding to areas and projects that need it, ensuring progress continues to be made and people are given the help they need to turn their lives around.’

As ever, here’s a link to the government’s press release.


« Older Entries Recent Entries »